I’ll say this for Episode 7, it sure helped me solidify what in the writing of this show isn’t working for me: Cause-and-effect, or the lack thereof. The two plots in this episode are a textbook example of this show doing the work to guide a viewer emotionally through a character’s arc over several episodes, versus doing weird plot stuff where explanations come either right before or right after said weird plot stuff.

The best plot here is Rintaro’s step back from the abyss, even if I still managed to have a bunch of problems with it. (Mainly, he just goes in the High Gravity Room to get stronger, then gets strong enough to beat the guy who beat him last episode. It’s not exactly a rollercoaster of a character arc, you guys.) We’ve spent weeks with Rintaro as the stalwart, dependable knight, so seeing him lose his shit and withdraw into a potentially-fatal training regimen, before finding his emotional center just in time to save Mei? That’s playing with our expectations, and challenging our assumptions. It’s just basic drama, but our investment in Rintaro’s previously-established psychological well-being means we can have a rousing finale that feels like a consequence of Rintaro’s struggles. It’s Writing 101, but it’s still effective enough to be considered a success.

Less successful is this show’s insane approach to its mythology and mega-arc, where clues are generally non-existent, and crucial developments happen concurrently with their introduction. We’d only heard the word Avalon uttered once or twice before this, so every bit of exposition that Touma gives in regards to the forms of entry, challenges they’ll face, and potential prize for victory is difficult to care about. It’s all just random facts, untethered from character motivation, continuity, etc. It’s just PLOT, and plot divorced from character is boring.

(Even Touma’s big moment at the end felt undercooked and unconvincing. He’s shouting I NEED THIS POWER TO SAVE THE WORLD and it’s like, what power? What in the hell are you even asking for? And why is there no other way you can help the world? Why all of this, right now, in this way?)

It’s nice of this show to put everything it does right and everything it does wrong in the same goddamn episode, since it saves me time in trying to explain it. Rintaro doesn’t have the best plot (his story is basically Git Gud, thanks for that), but at least it’s grounded in our previous knowledge of Rintaro’s character, as well as a motivated actor who brought recognizble emotions to his part. On the other hand, we’ve got Touma screaming in an all-white room before fighting a CGI fire monster in the Toku Caves. The first of those has an emotional presence I can react to, and the second one is just characters pinballing through whatever weird development gets thrown up on a whiteboard in a writers room somewhere.

I hope I don’t need to spell out which of those versions of Kamen Rider Saber we see more of in the future?


At least it was a visually impressive way to go. The view from up here was really something else.

Not that Mei was especially thrilled to be flung into the clouds by a tiger man, though. She didn’t have a fear of heights, but she did have a fear of plummeting thousands of feet to her messy death. It felt reasonable to her, all things considered. And ‘considering’ was very much what she was doing right this second, as she started her final approach to the ground.

She considered Touma. She didn’t really want to blame him for her death – it felt tacky, and he’d probably say something very sweet and memorable at her funeral anyway – but if that infuriating, badly-dressed beanpole could’ve managed to hit a single deadline in his life, she might not’ve been abducted to a storybook world and manhandled by mythological monster men. This wasn’t his best day as her friend.

She considered Rintaro. She probably should’ve stayed with him, after his beating in the forest. He was a good boy, and he just looked wrong as a grim swordsman. (It was a much better look on Kento, she briefly acknowledged.) She was sad that Rintaro would probably blame himself for her death, what with the tiger man being his nemesis now. That was a bummer. Well, hopefully Rintaro would have greater success avenging her than his master. She hoped it’d cheer him up, eventually.

She considered her friends. It was odd to her that she thought of them as a group exclusively, but that's just how they all were. One big group of friends, that she’d never see again. She wondered what Ogami and that green ninja kid would tell Touma, and what Touma would tell her friends. “Hey, Mei’s not going to be able to make it to the concert tonight, she was hurled into the sky of a storybook world by a tiger man, do not count on her Venmoing you for her tickets.” Probably not. Probably something about a car accident, maybe. It was going to be a closed casket for sure, so any lie would work.

Pretty close to the ground, now. It wouldn’t be long.

She considered Instagram, last of all. She’d never quite mastered the platform like she knew she could – a breakfast last July had a ton of likes, but she was never able to find a consistent aesthetic; maybe OOTD? – but it had been there for her whenever she needed it. Not much in her life was stable, but Insta was her rock. She owed it ev–

“Sorry to keep you waiting.”

She was in Rintaro’s arms now, she realized. Not the ground, but the arms of that sweet dumb boy, in his bright blue armor. He was himself again, as good as new. She could hardly believe it. She couldn’t see his face behind the helmet, but she knew he was smiling sheepishly, ready to deflect any praise with an Aw Shucks I’m Just Doing My Job Protecting Homo Sapiens sputter. He’d saved her, and she’d never forget it.

She had a chance to do things right, do things better. Rintaro had given her a second chance, and she knew exactly what she was going to do with it.

Unboxing videos. Definitely time to pivot to unboxing videos.